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									                                                            Guthrie, Gillian 1




The Best and Worst of Ads of 2007: Progressive versus Regressive Strategies




                        Gillian Guthrie
                  Pacific Lutheran University
                BUSA 308 Principles of Marketing
                    Prof. Merlin Simpson
                           05.11.08
                                                                          Guthrie, Gillian 2

        Increasingly dramatic technological developments have contributed to the success

of today’s commercial advertisements. With the advent of computers, LED lighting, cell

phones, state of the art printer technology and clever advertising appeal, ads today are

cutting edge in form. Companies are putting their products, their names, and their

reputations wherever they believe functioning eyes and/or ears will be present; American

companies have become more aggressive and audacious than ever before in their

approach to their message execution. As awareness of our looming global situation

spreads, a growing number of companies are taking steps in an eco-friendly direction in

an attempt to target, appeal and acquire new customers while exercising social

responsibility. As Madison Avenue so eloquently stated in their ad, “Green is the new

black (Vranica, 2008).” Among those employing the “environmental consciousness”

approach as their primary advertising appeal are corporate giants General Electric Co.,

Home Depot Inc., Chevron Corp., and Toyota Motor Corp.; which, considering the plight

of global warming, quadrupling of oil prices and record high consumption of gasoline,

seems an astutely appropriate direction (Vranica, 2007). In addition to fresh angles on

appeal, companies have successfully expanded their efforts into the online medium; this

was largely in response to ad-skipping DVR devices such as Tivo. Other novelties

included adding smells to print advertisements, and unsuspecting areas like gasoline

pumps, escalators, and even the sidewalk (Vranica, 2008). Some ads were hits among

their targeted market and beyond, while others completely missed their mark. Per review

of last year’s ads, allow me to discuss and evaluate the underlying messages as well as

the progressive and regressive elements of a few of the best and worst advertisements of

2007.
                                                                           Guthrie, Gillian 3

                                   The Best of 2007 Ads

       The “Eye of the Beholder” campaign by Unilever’s Dove was a tremendous hit

among its target audience: aging women. The chosen medium was an online video. The

objective was to establish an understanding of the true definition of beauty. The ad

“shows an average-looking woman being transformed into a billboard supermodel with

the help of lots of makeup, lighting and airbrushing. ‘No wonder our perception of beauty

is distorted,’ reads the screen (Vranica, 2007).” In conjunction with Dove’s website,

campaignforrealbeauty.com, the execution of their message was deliberate, concise and

effective; the ad was viewed over 24 million times on YouTube last year and an

estimated 4.6 million times on their website (Vranica, 2007). Moreover, there have been

ordinary individuals who have spoofed the ad which essentially speaks to fact that this ad

made an impression. It is one thing to watch an ad and forget about it, it is an entirely

different deal when people not only talk about it, but they spend time contemplating

about it. The pervasiveness of the ad on YouTube touches on the ad’s ability to capture

attention and is the first step of consumer involvement under the AIDA concept:

attention, interest, desire, and action (Lamb, Hair & McDaniel, 2007). The fact that there

have been so many viewers suggests the second and third stages have been accomplished.

Interestingly, stocks soared in the beginning months of the campaign then abruptly

slowed after a few months (Forbes, 2007). While it is agreed that this “campaign for real

beauty” appeals to many women, among a market already abundant with anti-aging

products and a growing obsession with youth, perhaps embracing unvarnished aging is

risky. Despite this, Dove did well to inform, persuade and remind its customers what its

product and its strategy was. Conceivably, acquiring an older, motivational (and

youthful-looking) spokesperson such as Kim Cattrall, who could be an opinion leader and
                                                                            Guthrie, Gillian 4

influence the opinions of their target market, could aid their effort to assert their

campaign to embrace natural beauty.


       The next venture’s intent was to promote "The Simpson’s Movie" and consisted

of a cooperative advertising campaign between News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox and

7-11 franchises. The convenience store giant “converted twelve of its stores into Kwik-E-

Marts, the fictional chain of convenience stores in the animated TV series. The stores

even sold specially created items such as Squishees, the fictional frozen beverage similar

to 7-Eleven's Slurpees; pink-frosted Sprinklicious doughnuts (a Homer favorite) and

boxes of KrustyO’s cereal (Vranica, 2007)” <Too much use of the quote> The 7-11

chain, a unit of Japan's Seven & I Holdings Co., saw major sales lifts at the eleven U.S.

stores that were converted for the month of the promotion. This campaign was a success

because of the numbers: the company says “total merchandise sales doubled; fresh bakery

sales increased sevenfold and customer count went up almost 50% (Vranica, 2007).”

Moreover, 7-Eleven says the promotion garnered about $7 million in free publicity. By

immersing twelve stores in the comprehensive fictional outfit, complete with a media mix

full of sundry pertinent details, 7-11 successfully targeted Simpson’s viewers, a crowd

that wields on average 8.6 million viewers in addition to appealing to the youth; the reach

of this campaign was impressive: the 7-11 website receives on average 400,000 hits per

day but on July 11, at the height of the campaign, the site received 10,420,730 hits

(Vranica, 2007). The fact that the goods are convenience products furthers the extent of

reach because it merits minimal shopping effort. The short one month promotional period

was also a contributing success factor.


       The final ‘best’ ad goes to Nationwide Mutual Insurance for their tremendously

successful application of a humorous appeal in the execution of their message. Their
                                                                            Guthrie, Gillian 5

commercials usually are humorous, including the one where forever youthful Fabio

famous for his blond locks ages into a decrepit old and his hair turns white and then the

famous quip plays, “Life comes at you fast…” In this instance, Nationwide incisively

hired Britney Spears’ ex-husband Kevin Federline, poster-child of rubbish, to be the butt

of a joke that predictably many people had already entertained. He is a notorious

wannabe rapper, but they have him working in a fast-food chain. “The spot, which looks

like a rap video, shows Mr. Federline, wearing a baseball cap and wireless headset

rapping. As the camera pulls back, Mr. Federline is seen working the drive-through

window. ‘Life comes at you fast. Be ready with a Nationwide annuity and you could be

guaranteed income for life,’ a voice over announces (Vranica, 2007)” This was an instant

public relations hit simply because it starred a currently known celebrity; the fact that it

was aired during the super bowl gave it significant public weight and reach. This ad

sparked conversation on "Entertainment Tonight" and "Good Morning America" and

provided late-night television hosts with endless punch lines. The ad really pinpoints the

reality of the inevitable uncertainties that tend to crop up in life, and provides a service to

call on prepare someone for such uncertainties. It was estimated that this ad generated

$23.3 million in free publicity; now that was a successful publicity segment of

Nationwide’s promotional strategy (Vranica, 2007). Ultimately, Nationwide secured their

image and their humorous approach through effective strategic planning for competitive

advantage once more: you are more apt to remember an ad that made you laugh.


                                       The Worst of 2007 Ads


       The disastrous marketing ploy engineered by the creators of the animated TV

show “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” featured on Cartoon Network, is one for the history

books. In an effort to promote their animated TV series, “the agency planted about forty
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boxes—adorned with blinking lights in the shape of "Hunger Force" characters Err and

Ignignokt—around downtown Boston.” <source?> The stunt sparked a panic amid

Boston residents, prompting the closure of highways and subways; many believed it was

a bomb scare or another terrorist attack. Furthermore, the network's parent company,

“Time Warner Inc.'s Turner Broadcasting Systems, ended up paying the Massachusetts

attorney general $2 million to settle any potential civil or criminal claims. ‘Clearly this

was not the intended outcome for this campaign,’ said Turner spokeswoman Shirley

Powell (Vranica, 2007).” Beyond the actual stunt, an apology was demanded, which

appeared to be a joke in itself; the two artists addressed the public in near rags, dismal

hygiene and proceeded to laugh, chide, smirk and obviously did not take their public

apology seriously in the slightest. This was devastating for their public relations image;

their credibility (if they had any to begin with) dropped to nil. The goal of public

relations is to “identify areas within the organization the public may be interested in and

execute a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance”: this agency

failed to successfully execute this area of the promotional mix (Lamb, Hair, & McDaniel,

2007).Their primary mistake was that they did not undergo proper procedure: ask

permission before deciding to deface public property. Given the heightened sensitivity of

east coasters to react negatively to a campaign of this caliber, and the misinterpretation of

the cartoon characters’ shapes, there was significant noise that interfered with the

transmission of their message. Furthermore, the target market of a TV show that airs on

the Cartoon Network beginning at mid-night probably does not entail every Boston

resident. <?> While their advertising campaign was ineffective at targeting a specific

audience, securing their public image, and implementing the proper medium for their

advertising objective, albeit negative, they did elicit a response which in essence,

generated feedback and publicity.
                                                                           Guthrie, Gillian 7

       Anheuser-Busch decided to contract with an in-house marketing team to start a

web-site containing over 2,000 minutes of original programming including short shows,

comedy stand up acts, and "The Joe Buck Show," which features the sports commentator

interviewing celebrities in a New York City cab (Vranica, 2007). Despite Anheuser-

Busch’s longstanding reputation for humorous ads and effective specified targeting of

their market, this stunt was a flop. They threw a sunk cost of 15 million dollars into this

endeavor. Understandably, the advent and shift towards internet usage and fierce

competition may have led Anheuser-Busch to believe it would be a successful

undertaking; however, it was not a hit because they failed to conduct sufficient marketing

research to evidence that their target market of males aged 21-27 would be interested in

perusing a web-site featuring Bud.tv rather than their usual websites; YouTube, facebook,

and Myspace etc. They failed to offer a significant competitive advantage <?> on their

website that their target audience was not already offered on the sites they visit regularly.

“The number of visitors to the site was so low it didn't meet Web-tracking firm comScore

Inc.'s threshold for measurability of visitors for most of the year (Vranica, 2007).” In

their post campaign evaluation, Anheuser-Busch should examine the competing websites

that their target audience is visiting and attempt to develop, incorporate and offer a

competitive advantage on their website that no other site offers. This is just the type of

unique selling position in advertising appeal that distinguishes Anheuser-Busch from its

competitors’ advertising appeals.


       Mars Inc. decided to run an ad containing content that was deemed controversial

among the homosexual subculture. “The ad showed two mechanics eating the same

candy bar at the same time—in what was a bizarre spin on the famous scene from "Lady

and the Tramp," where two dogs simultaneously eat a strand of spaghetti. After the men

reach the middle of the candy bar and lock lips, they rip out clumps of their chest hair in a
                                                                           Guthrie, Gillian 8

desperate attempt to ‘do something manly’ (Vranica, 2007).” Soon after the Gay &

Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation condemned the ad as antigay, Mars pulled the ad.

Spokeswoman for Mars, Alicia Nathanson prepared a public statement: "feedback from

our target consumers was positive, and many media commentators ranked the

commercial among their top ten best, we know that humor is highly subjective and

understand that some people may have found the ad offensive. That was never our intent

(Vranica, 2007).” <…too much use of the quoted content; you didn't need it. What is/are

the relevant part(s)?>This was particularly delicate phrasing on Mars’ behalf to soothe

heightened sensitivity among the subculture. An effective humor advertising appeal can

be tricky to implement; obviously, there’s no standardized formula for laughter—not

everyone will find your pitch humorous. However, especially regarding situation as these,

detailing each element of the advertising campaign (theme, slogan, set of advertising

appeals), promotional mix/strategy (plan for optimal use of advertising, public relations,

personal selling, and sales promotion) and media planning (regarding the selection and

use of media), as well as evaluating and being fully aware of the repercussions, is crucial

to the success of the company’s overall image (Lamb, Hair & McDaniel, 2007). One

miscalculation can cost the company face, money, customers, success, and profits.


       The goal of promotion is to inform, persuade and remind. As evidenced in the

above discussion, implementing a successful promotional strategy (which is a plan for the

optimal use of the advertising, public relations, personal selling and sales promotion) can

be extremely difficult. A plethora of factors can promote the success or failure of a

business’s <promotional?> strategy: customer’s perception and reception; noise; nature

of a product; stage in the product life cycle; target market characteristics; type of buying

decisions; available funds; push and pull strategies; and the external environment among
                                                                         Guthrie, Gillian 9

factors. To be a successful marketer, one must be attentive to the each and every detail

involved.


       Content:       190/200
       Write:         41.3/50                very well written, although excessive use of
                                             quotes; exceeded page limit
       Total:         231.3/250              92.5 A-/A


       Gillian,


       Very good reading – except for the distraction of the excessive use of quoted
content (from Vranica). You didn't need the extensive quotes. The assignment was to
be limited to five pages – the long-than-needed quotes contributed to your exceeding
the limit by two pages. You write extremely well; the content also demonstrates a very
fine comprehension of the course material we have addressed. Don’t let the quotes
detract. How much of them did you really need to support the very good insights and
points you were making? Look forward to seeing you in future marketing classes. Have
a great summer.

         Despite my comments about length – the original copy of this paper also belongs
in your portfolio. It’s good reading and evidence of your content comprehension and
critical thinking skill.s
                                                                      Guthrie, Gillian 10

                                      References

Forbes, Thom (2007, September 27). Dove Campaign May be Losing Luster. Marketing Daily.

       Retrieved May 1, 2008 from http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm ?fuseaction

       =Articles.showEdition&art_send_date=2007-9-24&art_type=43

Lamb, Charles D., Joseph F. Hair, Jr., and Carl McDaniel (2007). Essentials of Marketing, 9th

       edition. South-western Thomson Learning: Cincinnati, Ohio.

Vranica, Suzanne (2007, December 27). Best of Ads, Worst of Ads; In Pitching Products

       This Past Year, Gorilla Worked, but Guerrilla Didn't. The Wall Street Journal.

       Retrieved May 1, 2008 from http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb? did=1404035

       041&sid =7&Fmt=3&clientId=9255&RQT=/

								
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